Up until very recently, I've been able to field Maya's questions pretty easily. I mean, she's two, right? I'm not expecting to get the "where do babies come from" - type inquiries for at least a little while.
Well whaddya know, she pulled one of the Big Ones out of her hat the other day at breakfast. Completely out of the blue. No warning whatsoever...
"Where's God, Mama?"
My spoon froze on it's way to my mouth. I glanced at Mark and our eyes met with the same "Oh CRAP!" expression. I was really hoping to have the perfect answer to this question when it came up...you know, later.
She asked again. This time...
"Where'd God go?"
A million thoughts were racing through my mind. Ok, if I tell her that God is in Heaven, does that create the misconception in her impressionable mind that God is distant...elsewhere...removed? That's no good. But wait, if I tell her that He's "everywhere", is that too abstract for a toddler to comprehend? Does she need a more concrete visual to make her feel secure? Oh my gosh, I'm going to screw her up spiritually for life, all because I gave the wrong answer to this question...CRAP!
We ended up doing ok, I think. Mark started with the answer that God lives in Heaven, and I followed up with the explanation that God is always watching over us, and that He always hears us and is with us. She seemed satisfied, and moved on to more important matters. Like a rousing chorus of the "ABC" song.
Sometimes I think I get stressed way too easily about these things. I know that as parents, our roles as spiritual guides are extremely important. But my long-suspected belief that children have a closer connection to God than we think they do has been confirmed many times over as I've watched Maya grow. This girl remembers to pray for her meals when we don't. And she thanks God every day for healing an owie on her knee that's been long gone. How many times do I thank God when I receive an answer to prayer or an unexpected blessing? Yeah, probably once. Before I slip back into the vicious cycle of complaining about the next thing I wish would change.
I know full well that as much as I'd like my kids to grow up adhering to my exact belief systems and spiritual leanings (because they're the right ones, darn it! :)), it's not likely to happen. As Maya grows into adulthood, she'll form her own views, see God in a different way, develop her own personal faith that may look different, in some ways, than mine. Just as her father and I have done. And I want that for her, I really do. I just need to remember that. And I also want to remember that as much as we will teach our kids about God, they can teach us even more.
So I'll give Maya the best answers I can to these Big questions. All the while trying my best to keep my eyes and ears open for the answers God wants to give me through her.